Thursday, September 30, 2010

Blue Like Jazz... the movie.

I've said before how much I love Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller. He's a fantastic writer and storyteller, funny as hell at times, but my favorite thing about him is his honesty about his walk as a Christian. Mostly autobiographical, Don tells stories from his time at Reed College in Portland, where Christians are in the huge minority. Shares how he questioned his faith and then found his way back. He isn't afraid to talk about doubts, anger, questions with the church, etc. It's good stuff. Changed my life in ways. I have several copies I lend out whenever I get the chance to.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book:

 "There is something beautiful about a billion stars held steady by a God who knows what He is doing. (They hang there, the stars, like notes on a page of music, free-form verse, silent mysteries swirling in the blue like jazz.) And as I lay there, it occurred to me that God is up there somewhere. Of course, I had always known He was, but this time I felt it, I realized it, the way a person realizes they are hungry or thirsty. The knowledge of God seeped out of my brain and into my heart. I imagined Him looking down on this earth, half angry because His beloved mankind had cheated on Him, had committed adultery, and yet hopelessly in love with her, drunk with love for her."
 "Believing in God is as much like falling in love as it is making a decision. Love is both something that happens to you and something you decide upon."
"We would eat chocolates and smoke cigarettes and read the Bible, which is the only way to do it, if you ask me. Don, the Bible is so good with chocolate. I always thought the Bible was more of a salad thing, you know, but it isn’t. It is a chocolate thing.”
 So with Nashville' Steve Taylor directing, the movie has its cast and has been well on its way, but they've lost backers. Aside from the usual "It's hard to raise money for movies right now," spiel, Don states on his blog that one of the reasons is the following, which I think is very sad.
2. Blue Like Jazz is a very hard film for church-going, evangelical Christians to get behind. The folks who invest in Christian movies were scared to death of Blue Like Jazz. While it has a PG-13 rating, there is language, drug use and a scene where the protagonists put a giant condom on a steeple. To me, it’s the only movie that takes an honest look at a Christian kid coming of age in America, a story experienced by tens of millions of students each year. But students don’t fund Christian movies, older white guys do, and they find it hard to relate to the theme.
Sound hilarious and poignant and awesome to you? Exactly. So the reason I write this is because I just donated measly $25 to a Kickstarter campaign begun by his fans (some dudes just down the road in Franklin, Tennessee!) to raise money to get the ground rolling again on the film... and I just wanted to get word out, because I think it would be great for America to see this side of Christianity.  Not the scary politically charged side. Not the hypocrisy or the judging or the arguing about rules and whatnot. Just the real side of human Christianity. Real people with a PG-13 rating, who laugh at things like a huge condom on a steeple, who smoke cigarettes and drink beer and actually go on as believers, loving God and believing in salvation through Jesus Christ not in blind faith, but with a studied understanding that it's all about loving each other and being good to people in the end. People like me.
So far, over $50,000 (out of the goal of $125,000) has been raised. I was cracking up at the bonus prizes you get for various donations. Wish I had an extra grand hanging around so that I could be an extra in the movie. Sweet!

So check it out. Let me know your thoughts. Let me know if you want to borrow a copy of the book.
Also, for extra reading, here's an article in Christianity Today about the movie, including an interview with Don and Steve.

Updated October 7th: Blue Like Jazz has been saved! In the 8 days since I posted this, more than $75k has been pledged, and the funds are now at over $140k. How awesome is it to see that many people step up? 

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